Classic gimbap

Gimbap 김밥

Hi everybody!

Spring has come! It’s time for us to make something delicious, pack a lunch box, and go on a picnic.

I can’t fully enjoy any activity or event unless delicious food is on hand. Most Koreans are like this. I may spend one afternoon in Central Park here in New York, but before I do, I need to make gimbap. Packed with some water and an apple, my outing is more exciting knowing that it’s in my bag waiting for me. Oh, don’t forget some napkins and chopsticks!

If you do this, think about me when you unwrap your gimbap and sit down to eat! I’ll give you an imaginary compliment!

Korean seaweed rice rolls (Gimbap: 김밥)

Basically, gimbap is a seaweed rice roll made of gim (a sheet of dried seaweed) and bap (rice). So as long as you can roll some rice in gim, you can say: “Check out the gimbap that I made!”

For fillings, you can use chopped kimchi if you’re in a hurry, or make a classic gimbap like I do in this video. This recipe uses many colorful ingredients: carrot, eggs, danmuji, spinach (or cucumber), and beef. It takes a little longer to prepare. You can replace spinach with salted cucumber sticks, carrots with imitation crab sticks (or sliced and sauteed red bell pepper), and beef with sausage or ham.

This recipe is a very authentic, classic style gimbap that I used to eat and make all the time. Gimbap can be made with all kinds of fillings, and I like almost all of them, except for a few like mayonnaise. I like mayonnaise in my potato salad and in my sandwich, but not in my gimbap. I just don’t like the greasy texture.

You may be wondering: “Maangchi, how come you didn’t post this classic gimbap sooner?”

Yes, years ago, I posted my tuna gimbap recipe with a tuna and avocado based filling. I’d been using this recipe for years, even before YouTube was invented, and every time I took it to a party, it was always a big hit. The filling is my own invention – tuna stir-fried with soy sauce, garlic, ground black pepper, and sugar.

So when I wanted to shoot a gimbap video, I chose it because I thought you guys would love it. But I always wanted to do a classic gimbap video too, so here it is!

I’ve been making and eating this classic gimbap for years, much longer than my tuna gimbap. It’s something that my mom used to make for me for my school picnic. Whenever the picnic was announced, the first thing to come into my mind was this delicious gimbap! On that day everyone brings gimbap from home, shares a bite with their friends, and tries to figure out which gimbap tastes better. We sat in the grass on the side of the mountain and shared our gimbap and other snacks like sweet candy, yang-gaeng, dried squid, peanuts, boiled chestnuts, and hard-boiled eggs with salt. Great times!

Many moms also send off their kids with an extra gimbap for their teachers, to express their thanks for the teacher’s hard work. You can imagine, some teachers end up with a lot of gimbap! Because it should be consumed that day, they usually share them with other teachers, or give them to students who didn’t bring their own gimbap. What a touching story.

All right, enough of the long introduction. My stories go on and on when I talk about certain food. : )

This is the recipe, let’s get serious!

Ingredients: (serves 2-3 : 5 rolls)

  • 5 sheets of gim (seaweed paper), roasted slightly (sometimes called “nori” from Japanese)
  • 4 cups cooked rice (the recipe is here, but make with 2 cups of short grain rice instead of 1 cup)
  • ½ pound beef skirt steak (or tenderloin, or ground beef)
  • 1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks (about 1½ cup)
  • 5 strips of yellow pickled radish (use pre-cut danmuji or cut into 8 inch long strips)
  • 8  to 10 ounces spinach (1 small bunch), blanched, rinsed in cold water, and strained
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brown (or white) sugar
  • 1½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2½ tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • vegetable oil



  1. Place freshly made rice in a large, shallow bowl. Gently mix in ½ teaspoon kosher salt and 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil over top with a rice scoop or a wooden spoon.
  2. Let it cool down enough so it’s no longer steaming. Cover and set aside.


gimbap spinach

  1. Combine the blanched spinach, 2 minced garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil in a bowl.
  2. Mix well by hand and put it on a large platter with the sliced yellow pickled radish.


  1. Combine the carrot matchsticks with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Mix well and let it sweat for 5 to 10 minutes. Heat a pan and add a few drops vegetable oil.
  2. Squeeze out excess water from the carrot, then saute for about 1 minute. Put it on the platter next to the spinach.

gimbap carrot


  1. Trim the fat from the skirt steaks and slice into ¼ inch wide, 3 to 5 inch strips. Put the strips into a bowl. Add 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1 minced garlic clove, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper,1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brown (or white) sugar, and 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil.
    gimbap seasoned beef
  2. Mix well by hand.
  3. Set aside, and let them marinate while we do the egg strips.


  1. Crack 3 eggs in a bowl and add ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Beat it with fork and remove the stringy chalaza.
  2. Drizzle a few drops of oil on a heated 10 to 12 inch non-stick pan. Wipe off the excess with a paper towel so only a thin sheen of oil remains. Turn down the heat to low and pour the egg mixture into the pan. Spread it into a large circle so it fills the pan.
    gimbap egg filling
  3. When the bottom of the egg is cooked, flip it over with a spatula. Remove from the heat and let it cook slowly in the hot pan for about 5 minutes, with the ultimate goal of keeping the egg as yellow as possible, and not brown.
  4. Cut it into ½ inch wide strips. Put it next to the spinach on the platter.

kimbap fillings

Finish steaks:

  1. Heat up a pan over medium high heat and cook the marinated beef, stirring it with a wooden spoon until well cooked.
    beef filling for gimbap
  2. Set aside.

Let’s roll gimbap!

  1. Place a sheet of gim on a bamboo mat with the shiny side down. Evenly spread about ¾ cup of cooked rice over top of it, leaving about 2 inches uncovered on one side of the gim.
  2. Place beef, carrot, yellow pickled radish strip, a few egg strips, and spinach in the center of the rice.
    gimbap making
  3. Use both hands to roll the mat (along with gim and rice) over the fillings, so one edge of the rice and gim reaches the opposite edge. This centers the fillings in the roll, so they’ll be nicely in the middle when you slice it.
  4. Grab the mat with both hands and and press it tightly as you continue rolling the gimbap. Push out the mat as you roll, so it doesn’t get wrapped in the gimbap.
    rolling gimbaprolling gimbap rolling gimbap
  5. Remove the roll from the mat at the end and set the finished roll aside with the seam down, to seal it nicely.
  6. Repeat 4 more times with the remaining ingredients.
  7. Put some toasted sesame oil on the finshed rolls and sprinkle some sesame seeds over top. Cut each roll into ¼ inch bite size pieces with a sharp knife, occasionally wiping it with a wet paper towel or cloth to clean the starch off and to ease cutting.
    Gimbap rolls
  8. Put it on a plate and serve immediately or pack it in a lunchbox.

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  1. Sjoh213 Huntsville, AL joined 1/19 & has 2 comments

    Can you make a kimchi kimbap with this recipe? I used to eat this kimchi kimbap at my favorite korean restaurant, but they remove this particular kimbap off the menu.

  2. Ara.k New York joined 4/20 & has 1 comment

    I was wondering if instead of the steak skirt, could you substitute other things like tuna or something?

  3. WishfulsoUl Oslo joined 3/20 & has 17 comments

    Been making gimbap few times already and it’s fun to make. I find it very relaxing being in the kitchen and play with different colors of the food am making and this recipe is just one of those creations I never dared to try yet with a bit of courage and whisper to own’s self ”you can do it” (hahaha) then you’ll be just so happy to see the outcome.

  4. nhungsophia Frankfurt, Germany joined 4/20 & has 1 comment

    안녕하새요 Maangchi 씨,

    I want to try this 김밥 recipe and also bought the pickled radish from the Korean grocery store. However, I would not use the whole package for one time gimbap so how can I store the radish after opening?

    Best regards,

  5. Hula Girl Kauai, Hawaii joined 1/20 & has 2 comments

    My first time making gimbab. Your recipe and instructions are spot on. My family loves K-Dramas and now I can make fun snacks to enhance the experience. Kamsahamnida, Maangchi!

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  6. Uma Malaysia joined 1/20 & has 1 comment

    Thank you so much for this amazing recipe. My entire family love it!

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  7. bibimbebe Poland joined 5/19 & has 4 comments

    Hey Maangchi! I’m vegan and i was wondering how to enjoy gimbap this way. I followed your recipe, but instead of meat I’ve added fried tofu. I’ve used sesame oil pan fried carrot, cucumber, pickled radish and wilted spinach with garlic and salt. Can you tell me if this is still considered “korean food”? (I’ve seasoned my rice with sesame oil and salt al well)

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    • sanne Munich joined 8/14 & has 275 comments

      Of course it is still Korean.
      Try shiitake mushrooms instead of beef next time and tofu for the egg.

      Buddhist temple food is delicious, but there are no peppers or any hot items in that diet. Still worth a try.

  8. Jojietha Kuwait joined 11/18 & has 2 comments

    Inspired by you Maangchi

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  9. jennlogy Singapore joined 11/18 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi!
    I made this Kimbap with Quinoa cooked in chicken stock instead of white rice for a healthier option! And it turns out good and delicious! (use hotdogs instead of beef as requested by the kids) haha!

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  10. im2hope4 Denver, CO joined 11/18 & has 1 comment

    Omg, this is amazing. I’m half korean, and my mom refuses to reach me how to cook the essential dishes (kimchi, soups, kimbap, mandoo, etc.) until I get married…So never. XD. But I made this, ate the end pieces after I packed the rest of it, and it totally reminded me of my mom’s kimbap! I just sent her some pictures, we’ll see what she thinks.

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  11. NCKen North Carolina joined 10/18 & has 1 comment

    On Gimbap, can this be frozen for use, say within a week?

  12. Chocu55 Germany joined 9/18 & has 11 comments

    Thanks for your awesome recipes maangchi :)

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  13. sydneyscarlett Germany joined 8/18 & has 2 comments

    Just made this yesterday. My sister hadn’t had dinner yet and came into the kitchen while I was cooking. She was like “Oooh, what is that?!” and asked for one. I gave her one and she loved it! She was really disappointed when I told her that I needed for the rest of them for my school lunches since she gets lunch for free at school already.
    I’m definitely going to make this again. :)
    Not only did my sister love it, I love it too! I wrapped mine in aluminum foil and had my first one today along with some homemade kimchi from the local Korean grocery store. Yum!
    Thank you so much for your recipes, Maangchi! I love them!

  14. Neskorena UK joined 8/18 & has 1 comment

    Your recipe was amazing, thank you! All my friends and family could not stop eating them hehe!

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  15. Reahan Gold Coast joined 10/17 & has 6 comments

    Good day,

    Maangchi, I had made my Kimbap. My family loves it

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